When it comes to praying, I’ve noticed that since middle school there’s always been a rush to see who could touch their nose first – the last to do so having to pray in front of the group. As a shy and introverted teenager I wasn’t always thrilled to pray in front of others and was usually the first to have my index finger on my snout. But as I’ve grown older and more comfortable in speaking with God, I’m usually the one who ends up praying – partially because my reflexes aren’t as cat-like as they once were, but mostly because I’m okay with praying in a group.
In truth, for me, my faith is one of the few places where I let people into my life to see who I am – I don’t always let people know my personal stuff (family issues, self-doubts, frustrations, loneliness), so to pray in public is fine with me. I’d rather be vulnerable and stripped bare in my faith than in other places in my life. I find comfort in being open in my faith because it’s one place where I know others are uncomfortable and feel just as nervous and terrified and unsure about it as I do, and I know that most won’t judge me for where I’m at in the whole thing.
For the most part I think people enjoy and see the necessity to pray to God; what people don’t always relish is praying in front of other people. There’s a certain amount of vulnerability involved in speaking to our deity and oftentimes we do it in a very naked way. In those moments of speaking with God we are stripped of all pretenses, all airs of greatness, all pompousness and we are who we really are apart from everything we’ve made ourselves to be.
To be that naked and that vulnerable with other people can be scary. That’s where I think a lot of people get hung up when praying out-loud – we’re afraid of judgement. We’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, saying something outlandish or improper, not having the right words or phrases, or not being concise. We’re afraid that someone will judge our way of praying and we feel that it’s better to remain silent than to be vulnerable.
But by praying together, I hope that these moments can be places where relationships can grow and form and strengthen. In our most bare times do we find our places of connection. When someone else in a group prays with me I find a bridge to them – they are speaking to the same God and are giving words to the same feelings and thoughts and emotions I may be having. In those moments I feel most alive, most connected, and least terrified of being alone. Praying with others puts me on a team, places me in the hearts and minds of others, drawing me into them and they into me.
My friends, may there never be a moment of nose-goes in your prayer lives! Pray together and be together. Let us strip away all of our doubts and fears and be open in those moments of speaking with God as one body. Let us be free of judgement of ourselves and others and let us grow together, fully knowing God and one another.
much love. sheth.